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Fluoride: Myths & Facts

Fluoride is a controversial topic, and many of our patients feel strongly about the issue.

Fluoride is a mineral found naturally in food and water. It has several health benefits. Though it has proven to boost bone density to some extent, it is primarily used to protect teeth against tooth decay. It’s used in various dental products, such as toothpaste and mouthwash; it’s given to children in drops or tablets, and it’s added to public water supplies. Fluoride, including fluoridated water, strengthens and protects one’s teeth by hardening the enamel.

Due to the popularity of the Internet as a research tool and a medium for spreading information, it’s very easy for people to find negative and often disconcerting information regarding fluoride. Even though much of this information is not based on facts, it has raised concerns about fluoride’s safety and effectiveness. Therefore, to maintain good oral health, people need to educate themselves to separate myth from reality.

Myth #1: Fluoride is unnatural.

Fluoride is naturally present in water and other sources. Fluoridation only increases the level of fluoride to a level that reduces decay.

Myth #2: Fluoride damages teeth instead of protecting them.

When you eat foods like candy, crackers, or noodles, cavity-causing bacteria feast on the carbohydrates in these foods. This affects the enamel by producing acids. As a result, your tooth enamel is stripped off of calcium and phosphate, making you more vulnerable to decay and cavities. However, saliva disrupts this attack by coating your teeth and adding calcium and phosphate back to replace what has been lost.

When your saliva has fluoride in it from sources like toothpaste or water, your teeth can take it in. Fluoride forms fluorapatite when it comes into contact with calcium and phosphate in the enamel, which is the most effective defense your teeth can have against cavities. It’s stronger, more resistant to decay, and works to protect your teeth.

Myth #3: Children should not use fluoride toothpaste.

In the past, the American Dental Association recommended that children under 3 brush their teeth with water instead of toothpaste to prevent them from swallowing too much fluoride.

Based on further research, the ADA recommended that children under three shouldn’t use more than a grain of rice worth of fluoridated toothpaste. This decreases the risk of swallowing excessive amounts. Supervise your children when they brush their teeth, and never leave them with toothpaste unattended.

Myth #4: People who drink fluoridated water will develop fluorosis.

Fluorosis occurs when a person consumes large amounts of fluoride. Generally, fluoridated drinking water or toothpaste doesn’t contain enough fluoride to cause fluorosis unless consumed over the limit.

Myth #5: Drinking fluoridated water will cause cancer.

Numerous studies have shown that drinking fluoridated water does not increase the risk of cancer or other serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease. Additionally, the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Family Physicians endorse it as safe.

Myth #6: Fluoride increases the risk of autism.

No evidence from research or study indicates that the risk of autism is elevated because of fluoride or fluoridated water.

Have any questions regarding your oral health? If you live in the Greater Toronto Area, call Dr. Salim Kapadia today to book an appointment. Dr. Salim Kapadia Dental Centre has received the 2020 Scarborough Mirror Readers Choice Platinum Best Dental Office in Scarborough award.

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